Computer systems and applications that constitute today’s information technology pervade every part of every business and government, throughout Australia. IT’s rapid evolution has challenged business, government and non-profit organisations to extract the most benefits from their systems and applications and to update them as the organisations needs evolve.

To some, IT departments should constantly modernise their systems, incrementally improving and adapting systems as needs and technologies change. But the reality is quite different. There are dozens of ways that systems can become suddenly and irrevocably out of date: current suppliers go out of business or are acquired; market trends shift and organisations are bought, sold or merged.

It also provides a vehicle for economic growth and makes the workplace more rewarding, improves the quality of healthcare and makes governments more responsive and accessible to the needs of our citizens. Australia needs significant new research on computing and communications systems. This research will help us address important societal problems such as education and protect us from failures of complex systems that underpin our transportation, defence, healthcare, business and finance infrastructures.

The last two decades have created a tsunami of change around the world and has brought people around the world together over distance and time. Some governments around the world have been catalysts of change by making online services widely available in their jurisdictions. Recent events confirm that technology evolutions are far from nearing an end. There will be many more evolutions in society overall. From an economic standpoint it is crucial that new technologies continue to evolve in the marketplace given that the vast majority of countries around the world rely on information and communications technologies. This is a time of rapid change and perhaps the fastest in all of our history.

It is surprising that there have been very few attempts to catalogue what is known about IT’s impacts on our economy. IT’s role in economic growth is more than an economy conducted on the internet. Rather it represents the pervasive use of IT in all aspects of the economy, including internal operations of organisations; and transactions between individuals, acting both as consumers and citizens and organisations. Core technologies will continue to get better, faster, cheaper and easier to use, enabling many new technologies and applications to be introduced on a regular basis. Our policymakers need to see IT not just as a narrow IT policy but as the centrepiece of economic policy and vision. This means putting issues of digital transformation at the front and centre of economic policy.

Originally published in the Rust Report, Rust Bucket

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Len Rust

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